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Your Healthy Family: Ketamine patient talks openly about overcoming suicidal thoughts

Posted at 12:17 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 14:17:43-05

COLORADO SPRINGS – New numbers just released in a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017.  As we at KOAA News5 work to continue a conversation of hope around the issue, we’re getting a look into some of the things going on in a person’s head who is struggling with such an unimaginable act, and more importantly how he found help.

A patient who I will call “Bruce” for this story tells me when his active life style was taken away by a rare medical condition causing chronic pain 3 years ago, and following multiple surgeries severe depression set in.

Bruce says, “Anxiety is the constant companion and depression is the frequent but occasional visitor.”

Then one evening, he says he found himself facing a startling thought.

“I was going to brush my teeth and I just had this very apathetic thought, and i thought, ‘I wish this toothbrush were gun so I could just blow my head off’.  And I thought to myself ‘where did that come from?’. Do I really want to die? Then I started imagining if I didn’t wake up tomorrow what would that be a sad thought, and I could not drum up a single negative emotion about that idea.”

After therapy and beginning medication Bruce says things were generally better.  However he still couldn’t shake moments of suicidal thoughts.

His journey lead him to Ketamine therapy.  Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that’s also mis-used recreationally, and has a good amount of stigma around it’s off label use.

Bruce remembers thinking, “Am I really going to use a recreational drug to feel better?  But then at that point I also thought ‘I’m going to die, what do I care’.”

Dr. John fleming at the Southern Colorado TMS Center in Colorado Springs began Bruce’s Ketamine therapy.

Dr. Flemming explains, “Studies at Yale show that with 6 treatments over 2 weeks time, most patients will have their symptoms stay gone for 3 to 20 months.  This is extraordinary, we never knew of a technique that could block suicidal ideation in just 2-3 hours, and bring people out of depression in a meaningful way in 2-3 hours, and not because we are giving them hallucinations, and not because we are making people dissociate.”

Bruce is now past his darkest days and say’s has a renewed love of life despite his ongoing chronic pain condition.  “I still have highs and lows, and I’m still working on smoothing those out a little bit. But, the apathy that I felt that that first day with regard to my life is gone and life is  life is definitely worth living.”

Southern Colorado TMS Center is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family